May River High School band director Shelby Ledbetter was charged with driving under the influence Saturday morning despite having a blood alcohol content that was half the legal limit, according to a Bluffton Police Department report.
She was placed on paid administrative leave Monday morning by the school district, according to district spokesperson Jim Foster.
As of late Monday afternoon, the district had not decided if Ledbetter, who began as the school’s band director in July, would remain on leave in light of the police report.
When asked if there were any plans to drop the DUI charge against Ledbetter, Bluffton Police Lt. Christian Gonzales said, “At this time, that’s something our prosecutor would have to address.”
Ledbetter, 25, was pulled over at 1:54 a.m. Saturday by Bluffton Police Officer Baker Odom, who had observed her driving 11 mph over the 50 mph speed limit “down the middle of the two east bound lanes of Okatie Highway for approximately 40 seconds,” according to the police report.
“I observed her speech to be slow and slightly slurred,” Odom wrote in his report of the arrest. “Her eyes were also glassy. I also detected the odor of an alcoholic beverage.”
Odom administered three field sobriety tests and noted that Ledbetter displayed 13 of 18 cues for inebriation, according to the report, such as starting a walk-and-turn test too soon, not placing her heel to her toe, using her arms for balance, swaying and putting her foot down during a one-leg stand test according.
At Bluffton Police headquarters, Ledbetter was given a breath test, which indicated a 0.04% blood alcohol content, according to the report, which is half the South Carolina legal limit of .08 and also below the .05 percent threshold for it to be considered a factor toward a DUI charge when considered in conjunction with other evidence, according to state law.
After the breath test, Odom attempted to contact eight different drug recognition experts to test Ledbetter, but “each DRE either did not answer the phone or was unable to respond,” according to the report.
Ledbetter was charged with DUI and improper lane change. She was booked into the Beaufort County Detention Center at 4:51 a.m. and released at 9:43 a.m. that morning on a personal recognizance bond, according to the Beaufort County Public Index.
Gonzales said Monday afternoon that the breath sample is taken to support an arrest made based on field sobriety tests.
“Once you arrest somebody at that point, then there is no return,” he said.
The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette does not generally identify those arrested for misdemeanors, unless they are people in positions of public trust or there is another compelling reason to do so.